Outgoing Rhode Island Governor Donald Carcieri has agreed to meet in early November with a group of gay and lesbian activists, but proceeded to speak out against gay marriage at a fundraiser for a Massachusetts group opposed to gay and lesbian rights.

Carcieri told the group that marriage is “not a civil right.”

Last month, gay rights group Queer Action Rhode Island asked the Republican governor to cancel a scheduled appearance before the anti-gay group Massachusetts Family Institute (MFI) at its 18th Annual Fundraising Banquet.

“We find it appalling that you, the governor to all people of [Rhode Island], would support the fundraising efforts of an organization that advocates against the lives of some R.I. citizens,” the group said in a letter addressed to the governor. “By making this fundraising speech, the negative message you will send to Rhode Island's gay community – especially its younger members – is extremely harmful.”

The MFI objects to any pro-gay legislation – not just granting gay couples the right to marry – including a transgender anti-discrimination bill currently being debated by Massachusetts lawmakers. The group dubbed the bill the “bathroom bill,” and called on lawmakers to “flush down the toilet” the bill that adds gender identity to the list of protected classes. They argue that the bill would invite sexual predators into bathrooms, putting women and children in peril.

“DON'T WAIT UNTIL A WOMAN OR CHILD IS ASSAULTED!,” the group says on their website. “Tell your state representative to OPPOSE the Transgender Bill.”

The governor refused to cancel his appearance, insisting he had a right to his personal opinion.

“I don't believe in discrimination against anybody, I never have. I have a conviction about what marriage should be defined as,” Carcieri said during a radio interview on WPRO-AM. “That's nothing new. People can disagree. I understand that, but, you know, I have a right to my view as well.”

Thursday night, the governor spoke for about 45 minutes as gay rights activists protested outside the Newton Marriott Hotel in an upscale Boston suburb, The Providence Journal reported.

“It is not a civil right. I get aggravated when it is portrayed that way,” Carcieri said of marriage. “Marriage is a license by the state. It is about a state's responsibility, which is the reason why states don't allow a lot types of marriages.”

Susan Heroux, a member of Queer Action Rhode Island, one of the groups the governor has agreed to speak with, said the meeting will be “very important.”

“I don't know what his interaction is with gay people, frankly,” she said. “And we don't expect to change his views. But we do hope that by talking to him about our daily lives, he can understand that this is not just ideology.”

Carcieri, who will be term-limited out of office next year, remains a major obstacle to passing a gay marriage bill in Rhode Island, which lawmakers have considered for the last 12 years. The governor also backs an effort to place a gay marriage ban in the Rhode Island Constitution. And in the spring, he and his wife, Sue, joined the state's newly minted chapter of the National Organization for Marriage, the nation's most vociferous opponent of gay marriage.